Hairy-legged Mining Bee (Dasypoda hirtipes) – Bursted decline but second colony found

A nest count for the Hairy-legged Mining Bee (Dasypoda hirtipes), uncommon in London, made by Bursted Woods this year, suggests a decline in numbers. The colony, which has been the only one known in Bexley, appears from an old photograph to have been present on the Erith Road verge here since around 1965. Some 995 nests were counted on 6/8/15, 610 on 8/8/16 and only around 457 (though a very rough and ready assessment) on 1/8/17. The grass in the nesting area was far more rank this year due to the interplay between the Council mowing regime and the damper conditions of late, which won’t have helped and cool conditions earlier in the year may have had an impact. 

However, on 8/8/17 I found a series of raised, south-facing, groups of adjoining front gardens on Eversley Avenue, Barnehurst to be occupied by the Bee, and one on the other side of the road, covering 10 properties in all. I didn’t have time for a proper count, only tallying some 256, but there were a lot more in reality. This is another illustration of the value of front gardens for wildlife, and why they shouldn’t be paved over for car parking!   

As a matter of interest, the two colonies are 790 metres apart as the Crow flies.

Hairy-legged Mining Bee pokes its head out of its nest by Bursted Woods, 11/8/17. (Photo: Chris Rose)

Female ‘paddling’ backwards to push more sand out of and away from the nest hole. (Photo: Chris Rose)

 

Chris Rose

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